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When Not Playing Football, What is Mack Doing?

Andrew Hirsh:Thanks for taking the time to chat. As you get settled in with your new team, what kind of reputation do you want to build for yourself in Atlanta?

Alex Mack: I've always tried to be a hard-working, dependable guy. Not flashy. Just a high-energy player. On the field, I want people to know I'm trying my hardest, doing my best every play.

AH: You're widely considered to be an intelligent athlete, and centers tend to score extremely well on the Wonderlic test during combine testing. Why is it is so important for a team's center to be smart?

AM: On the O-line, you have to be intelligent. You have to know a lot of plays, a lot of techniques, a lot of schemes and work well with everyone else on the line, always be on the same page and react to whatever the defense gives you. Being intelligent, it's important to make all those calls (as a center).

AH: Do you think that's even more important in an offense that uses an outside zone blocking scheme and requires guys to move in harmony?

AM: I think it's especially important in Shanahan's offense to be athletic, quick and high-energy. In my time with him (in Cleveland) we ran a pretty fast offense and we tried to play up-tempo—keep running the ball, keep playing physical.

AH: As someone who learned Kyle Shanahan's playbook in Cleveland, what about his system makes you think the Falcons offense can be one of the NFL's best in 2016?

AM: I like his offense because he a very logical and complete picture. Everything ties in together very well. The running game really reinforces the pass game, and the two (types of plays) look similar to keep the defense guessing. When we're running the ball a lot and give that same look while throwing a pass—they work off each other to be really successful.

AH: Moving away from football, I've heard you're a pretty avid reader. What kind of books are you into?

AM: I read a lot. Reading is one of those things I do every night before I go to sleep. I try to read a book to relax me for a day, clear my head and let me get to sleep. For that reason I enjoy fiction—science fiction, historical fiction.

AH: Other than reading, what hobbies do you have?

AM: During football season, I'm trying to stay off my feet and relax to rest up for the next day's practice or game. So I really like video games and watching movies. In the offseason I'm a big traveler. I try to see different places in the world, see different cultures.

Thailand is one of my favorite places; it was one of the first places I went to, and that was a really good trip. I also really enjoyed Egypt; Israel was really fascinating.

AH: What's something else you'd like fans to know about you?

AM: From my experience traveling, I've been able to do work with the military. I've been fortunate enough to do two USO trips overseas and see troops—spend time with them, thank them for their service. That's been a great experience for me; I have a lot of respect for what they do and I really support them.

AH: If you weren't a professional football player, what would your dream job be?

AM: I think a dream job would be to someone behind the scenes working on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show. You'd get to eat a bunch of great food, see all the great places he goes to. I think being able to experience all those different things would be fascinating.

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